The role of rhetorical theory in journey maps



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User experience researchers use journey maps as a method for gauging the experiences and feelings of users in their progress toward achieving a goal. Typically, researchers create journey maps for the purpose of informing stakeholders about what their users are experiencing. In this study, student participants, in addition to participating in a semester-long course, attended between one and three design workshops at a local design museum during their study of design fundamentals. Near the end of the course, students created their own journey maps of their experiences and feelings while participating in the class. This study of journey maps offers different ways of imagining the user experience visually adding more dimensions to this method. Rhetorical agency shifts when the users hand-draw their own journey maps. What the user says becomes the focus and the agency. In addition to gathering journey maps from the study participants, I also conducted interviews and did pre- and post-surveys. This project is an open-ended inquiry in which I use rhetorical analysis as a methodology to study the journey maps as artifacts of communication and includes a content analysis of the interviews and survey data. The driving research questions for this project are 1) how do users employ symbolic language, both verbal and visual, on hand-drawn journey maps to communicate their experiences on their paths to completing a goal; 2) how does agency change and what is that impact when users create their own hand-drawn journey maps; and 3) how does drawing as a personal capacity extend the agent’s ability to use symbol systems in the form of verbal and visual language to communicate through a journey map? I gather this qualitative and quantitative data from students in a course on the fundamentals and history (of design) offered in the Department of Technical Communication and Interactive Design at my university. My analysis speaks to the key role that user experience research plays in designing systems and experiences for specific audiences.

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User Experience, Journey Maps, Rhetoric